Relooking at a Legend: "Annie Leibovitz at Work" @ Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville
Our friends at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opned Annie Leibovitz at Work recently, an installation of photographs by one of the most influential artists of our time. On view through January 29, 2024, Annie Leibovitz at Work will premiere at Crystal Bridges before embarking on a four-city tour across the nation.
Comprised of new and rarely-seen recent photographs integrated with many images made during Leibovitz’s legendary career, which spans half a century now, Annie Leibovitz at Work is the artist’s first major museum exhibition in a decade. It is a personal view of a body of work famous for the number of important public figures who are part of it: artists, actors, musicians, politicians, athletes, architects, business leaders. Included are portraits of Cindy Sherman, Lizzo, LeBron James, Presidents Obama and Biden, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Rihanna, Dolly Parton, Shonda Rhimes, Tom Ford, and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. The images in the show are seen in prints on paper and on high-tech digital display screens.
“This was an opportunity to do something that I couldn’t do for anyone else,” said Annie Leibovitz.
Annie Leibovitz has made some of the most recognizable portraits in American life. They are immediately identifiable and imprinted on our consciousness. Her eye and theatrical instincts and wit are legendary, but she doesn’t have just one technique or style or look. She has explored many ways to make a photograph. What is consistent is the level of intimacy. It is a quality that is evident in the early black-and-white work as well as in the more conceptual, painterly portraits of the later years.
Leibovitz’s importance was established in the ‘70s, when she was Rolling Stone’s chief photographer. She was young and enmeshed in the volatile cultural upheavals of the time. In the early ‘80s, she began working for Vanity Fair and then Vogue, expanding her repertoire of subjects and becoming established as the portraitist of nearly everyone who did something interesting. In 1991, she became the first female artist to have a solo show at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. She has received many honors, including lifetime achievement awards from the International Center of Photography and the Académie des beaux-arts in Paris. She has been designated a living legend by the Library of Congress.
“We’re honored to showcase the exceptional work of Annie Leibovitz, an artist with an extraordinary vision and legacy,” said Olivia Walton, board chair for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. “Annie’s photographs capture our nation’s diverse culture, history, and people, while serving as a powerful reflection of the American experience. As a museum situated in the Heartland of America, we are dedicated to presenting work that fosters a deeper sense of identity and connection for visitors in this region – and across the country.”
Curated by Alejo Benedetti, acting curator of contemporary art at Crystal Bridges, Annie Leibovitz at Work will travel to four additional venues: The Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC; Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, CA; Frist Art Museum in Nashville, TN; and Wichita Art Museum in Wichita, KS.
“Annie Leibovitz at Work is a bold re-examining of the artist’s practice. This is Annie criss-crossing her legendary career in a deeply personal and self-reflective way in order to give a peek into her mind at work. ” said Benedetti. “The result is a tour de force filled to the brim with an intimacy and clarity of vision that could only come from Annie herself.”